Senate Ag Committee Chairman Tom Harkin of Iowa told reporters Tuesday that the next farm bill will be different from the last one, despite last week's proposed extension of thee 2002 commodity title by a House Ag Subcommittee. Although Harkin said he believes the farm bill must be reformed for its own sake, he's also convinced the political reality is that a farm bill that leaves the current commodity title intact won't make it out of the House.
"The House action - it does preserve the status quo," Harkin told Brownfield. "And I just can't imagine that's going to survive the House floor."
On the other hand, Harkin said he’s not in favor of more radical proposals like the FARM-21 plan proposed by Wisconsin House Democrat Ron Kind and Indiana Senate Republican Dick Lugar. "This is not a Ron Kind kinda bill, OK?" Harkin posited.
Still, Harkin made it clear he plans to shift away from direct payments, though he stopped short of calling for their elimination in the 2007 farm bill. But he did say base acres for the purposes of direct payments should be updated. And he noted that when Congress implemented direct payments in 1996, they were not intended as a permanent entitlement.
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